The Perfect Calligraphy Starter Kit

The Perfect Calligraphy Starter Kit

I am constantly asked what I would put into the perfect calligraphy starter kit.

Firstly, I would absolutely steer clear from pre-packaged “calligraphy sets”. Instead, purchase things separately. This way, may be more expensive at first, but you’ll invest in quality materials you will use for a much longer period of time.

Here are the basics you'll need:

  • Nikko G Nib
  • Oblique Pen/Holder
  • Black Sumi Ink
  • Paper (Marker Paper is a great starting point. Learn the best papers for calligraphy here)
  • Pencil
  • T-square
  • Disposable cloth to clean your nib (a paper towel will do)
  • Cup filled with water

Nikko G Nib

The Nikko G is by far the easiest nib to learn with. It is very flexible and forgiving for first-timers—plus it’s long-lasting and durable, so while you are pressing and testing your hand positioning you will be less likely to damage the nib.

You will need to clean your brand new nibs when you use them for the first time. Read this post to find out how to prepare your new nib for use.

And this post to learn why the Nikko G is really that amazing.

Oblique Pen Holder

Don’t be put off by the offset nib, I much prefer these to straight pens! I find these pens give me better control as nibs remain more secure and are easier to load in these holders which is perfect for learning. 

I recommend these holders for beginners.

  • Plastic Holder with metal flange
  • Speedball Deluxe
  • Wooden Obliques

Lefties, if you're not sure about oblique holders try this straight Speedball one.

Black Sumi Ink

Sumi ink is a smooth, beginner-friendly, rich black ink.

Read more about Sumi (and other inks) here.

Note: If your ink does not come in a screw top container, you will need to buy a small screw-top dinky dip.


Not all paper is going to work well. Some will get stuck in your nib’s tines with a little pressure, others will curl and bend from the weight of ink.

Marker paper is a great starting point—like this one. For a cheaper option, try 32lb HP Laserjet. To find out more about calligraphy papers, this post will run you through the best paper options.

Pencil & T-Square

This is to help draw your guidelines when you practice.

Alternatively, download our Copperplate Calligraphy Template sheet here and print it. If you can’t print on the paper you need, print on normal paper and place our template underneath to use as a guide while you draw your grid on top with your pencil and T-square.

Disposable cloth to clean your nib 

I recycle old T shirts! You can use whatever you have readily available—a cloth dinner napkin, a rag or small towel are some suggestions.

If all else fails, a paper towel will do, yes, some paper fibres might get stuck in your nib which isn’t ideal but if that’s all you have it’s cheap and it works—just watch out for those small pieces.

Cup filled with water

Plastic cup, a mug, any sort of container will do!

You should be cleaning your nib often as your write—at the very least, every five minutes. Ink dries and makes it hard to flow through your nib, affecting your writing.

Tip: Wipe the ink off your nib before you dip it into your water. This will prolong your water’s life and keep it cleaner for longer. 

These supplies they are among some of my favourites and will make a great start, hopefully making your calligraphy learning easier. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can continue on to challenge yourself with more advanced inks, nibs and materials!

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